Past Awardees

Carson Lyness 
Of Rivers, People, and Dams: An Exploration of River Conservation (2017)

Angelica Spearwoman 
Reclaiming Her Right to Thrive: A Year Spent Prioritizing Women's Safety and Security (2017)

Haley Andres
Art, Trauma, and Creative Healing: Understanding Art Therapy in a Diversifying World (2014)

Kelsey Crutchfield-Peters
It Takes a Village: Placing Biodiversity Conservation in the Context of Native and Indigenous Communities (2014)

Eryn Eby (2013)

Margaret Shelton
More than a Halo, Wings, and Strings: The Diversity of Harps and Harpists (2010)

Jacki Ward
Stretching Humanity: Contortion in a Cross-Cultural Context (2010) 

Clint Agresti
Beneath the Sounds: Exploring and Preserving the Music of Community (2009)

Emilie De Wulf
When Wild Meets the West: Preserving Horse Breaking, a Diverse Art at Risk  (2008) 

Rachel Gross
Mountain Hut Systems and the Meaning of Wilderness (2008)

Zorba Leslie
Finding Justice: Learning to Reconcile the Past to Live the Present (2007)

Kendra Loebs
Exploring Biology and Belief in the Manual Management of Chronic Pain (2007)

Leif Rasmuson
Changing Seas: Evolving from traditional to commercial fisheries (2007)

Greg Groggel
Chasing the Flame: The Lasting Legacy of Hosting the Summer Olympics (2006)

Linh Vuong
Into the Wind: Exploring the Evolving Art of Kite Making & Natural Design (2006) 

Scott Warren
Time is a River: Mapping Change, Culture and History in the Grandest of Canyons: Namibia, Ethiopia, China, Peru, and Mexico (2005)

Buck DeFore
The Abyss Gazes Also Into You: Living With the Legend of a Lake Monster: Canada, Argentina, South Africa, Australia, Sweden, and Scotland. (2003)

Mary Wynne Kotschwar
Of Lemurs, Land, and Lore: The Sociocultural Niche of a Flagship Species: Madagascar (2003) 

Toby Ault
The Voyage of the Beagle Revisited: A Repeat of Darwin's Journey: Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Galapagos Islands (2002)

Jennifer Tillett
Hardware Meets History: Old Nations and the New Economy. St. Petersburg, Russia; Bangalore, India; and Shenzhen, China (2002)

Jess Sotelo
The Integration of Curanderismo and Western Medicine in Latin America (2001)

Matthew Swarner
Field Observations of the Bush Dog: United Kingdom, Ecuador, Panama, Brazil (2000)

Regina A. Jorgenson
Women in Astronomy: Germany, Russia, Japan, India (1998)

My Thi Nguyen
Exploring the Vietnamese Diaspora through Paint: Vietnam, Australia, France (1998)

Mary M. Walker
Alternative Cancer Treatments: China, Germany, Greece, Japan, Mexico, United Kingdom (1997)

Erich K. Von Tagen
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: Wrestling with Post-Modernism: Japan, Mexico (1997)

Elena Moon
The Art of Aboriginal Living: Australia, Papua New Guinea (1995)

Bryce A. Maxell
Management of Flora and Fauna: Australia, New Zealand (1994)


2009-10: Clinton Agresti '09

Congratulations to Clinton  Agresti ’09 who has been awarded the prestigious Thomas J. Watson Fellowship to pursue an independent project overseas during 2010–11. Agresti was one of 40 college seniors from 23 states and three foreign countries to receive the grant, in a contest that the Thomas J. Watson Foundation described as especially competitive this year.

Clinton's project, titled “Beneath the Sounds: Exploring and Preserving the Music of Community,” will aim to create a better understanding of the relationship between music and culture by exploring the subjective worlds of individual musicians against the backdrop of their communities and traditions.  “It is essentially about understanding the unique human drive to invent music—music that draws from and contributes to the values, worldviews, and ways of subsistence of the community,” Agresti said. 

The Watson fellow will frame his research with questions that may reveal more about the creative process of musicians in foreign cultures. He will also seek to discover common strands of inspiration among the far-flung musicians. Clinton plays several instruments, including piano, percussion, and guitar, and intends to actively participate in his host communities’ music.  He will spend time with the Zakhchin people of the Khovd region in Mongolia, the Hutuls of the Carpathian Mountains in Ukraine, the Asante of central Ghana, and the Aymara of the Lake Titicaca basin in Bolivia, all of whom practice largely agrarian or pastoral lifestyles. With the persistent advance of modernization, these ways of life, and the musical traditions they spawned, are fading—a reality that underscores the importance of the project.

2008-09: Emilie De Wulf & Rachel Gross

Emilie De Wulf

Project Title - When Wild Meets the West: Preserving Horse Breaking, A Diverse Art at Risk
Countries - Mongolia, Iceland, Morocco, Namibia, Brazil

My immersion in diverse practices of horsemanship in Iceland, Mongolia, Morocco, Namibia, and Argentina will provide me with a critical perspective on the revolution happening in horse training. The popular natural horsemanship techniques of the American West are influencing and potentially threatening indigenous horse breaking practices. By observing horses in different settings and tasks, by experiencing first hand the success or failure of traditional tack and training methods in the wake of western influence and tourism, and by learning these practices before they are lost entirely, I will establish a platform from which I can analyze the state of and help to preserve original horse knowledge.

Rachel Gross

Project Title - Mountain Hut Systems and the Meaning of Wilderness
Countries - Switzerland, Scotland, Finland, Chile, India, Tanzania

Of the systems of huts that dot the backcountry of the world's wilderness areas, each hut, be it a 2x8 shed with room just for a sleeping bag or a two story hostel with the amenities to match, points to the same question: how do the people who visit and work there view the nature around them. Because the very idea of wilderness is a social construction, this idea will vary, even among people from the same country. My goal is to hike hut-to-hut in the backcountries of Switzerland, Scotland, Finland, Chile, and India in order to explore the way different groups define their presence and purpose in the wilderness.

2007-08: Zorba Leslie, Kendra Loebs, and Leif Rasmuson

Zorba Leslie

Finding Justice: Learning to Reconcile the Past to Live the Present
Places to Visit: Chile, South Africa, Rwanda and Cambodia
Major: Politics and Government
Hometown: Tacoma, Washington

Over the course of twelve months, I will travel to Chile, South Africa, Rwanda and Cambodia.  In each of these countries, I will seek to assess the effectiveness of the retributive and restorative methods of securing justice available to post-conflict societies as they attempt to strike a balance between forgiveness and vengeance.  I will ask how conventional courts and tribunals compare to truth and reconciliation commissions (herein TRCs) in their ability to meet the needs of individuals, communities and nation-building.  What form does the healing process take after verdicts and sentences are passed, and the truth confessed?  In each of these countries I will become an active participant in ongoing reconciliation efforts, including the impending criminal tribunal in Cambodia and grass roots truth recovery efforts in Chile.  In South Africa I will extensively interview the architects and participants of what is now considered the ideal model for TRCs and non-violent transfer of power, and will partake in community efforts to memorialize the past and reeducate the younger generation.  In Rwanda, where there is a general sense that the international criminal tribunal and domestic courts have failed to adequately address the psychological and physical needs of individuals, I will take part in local efforts to use traditional gacaca courts, a truth-based indigenous court not unlike TRCs.  Ultimately, through a combination of interviews and hands-on reconciliation involvement in post-conflict healing, I hope to better understand how to most effectively focus my personal and professional efforts to achieve justice.

Kendra Loebs

Exploring Biology and Belief in the Manual Management of Chronic Pain
Places to Visit: Morocco, India, Thailand, Japan, Tonga
Major: Biology
Hometown: Lakefield, Minnesota

Ancient manual therapies such as massage, anatomical manipulation, and accupressure continue to play medically-significant roles in many cultures.  This is particularly true in the management of chronic pain conditions, which require frequent medical care that is not easily accessible to many individuals.  Theories and techniques of manual medical therapies often draw strongly from both knowledge of the body as a biological entity and consideration of the patient as a spiritual being.  As such, they recognize the mind-body paradigm in healing and treat much more than just the physical manifestations of pain.  Broadly, this project seeks to understand the roles that manual therapies play in community health through the study of specific and general traditions of manual therapies in Morocco, India, Thailand, Japan, and Tonga.  I particularly desire to understand the metaphysical beliefs underlying manual therapies as they relate to the management of chronic pain conditions.  I intend to immerse myself into the worlds of healers to understand the ways in which they conceptualize the multifaceted etiology of pain and how knowledge and belief ultimately shape their holistic approach to diagnosis and treatment. 

Leif Rasmuson

Changing Seas: Evolving from traditional to commercial fisheries.
Places to Visit:
Norway, Chile, Japan and Australia
Major: Biology
Hometown: Sebastopol, California

My project focuses on the transition from artisanal to commercial fisheries and the resulting impact of this shift on culture in Japan, Norway, Australia and Chile.  Some countries encourage a return to artisanal methods and I want to know if this has led to a revival of traditions.  Fishery regulations differ among countries and are strongly influenced by local fisheries.  To offset falling fish stocks the number of fish farms worldwide grows exponentially each year and may represent a possible path for maintaining traditional fisheries and biodiversity.

2006-07: Greg Groggel and Linh Vuong

Greg Groggel

Chasing the Flame: The Lasting Legacy of Hosting the Summer Olympics
Places to Visit: Mexico, Germany, Russia, South Korea, Australia, China
Major: International Political Economy
Hometown: Omaha, Nebraska

The impact the Olympic Games can have in transforming a society is far-reaching. Having worked for ESPN at the most recent Summer Olympic Games, I can personally attest to the many imperfections. The experience has left me fascinated by the questions which arise from the concept of “Olympism.” Are the fundamental principles of the Olympic Charter achieved when a country plays host to the world? Is the host city forever enlightened, awash in its newly found peace and prosperity, or is it left shell-shocked, wading through debt and cultural exploitation? Broadly, my study seeks to probe these questions through comparative investigation of the Mexico City, Munich, Moscow, Seoul, Sydney and Beijing Olympic sites.

I seek a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship to better understand the Olympic Movement and to promote a critical dialogue about the legacy of hosting the Olympic Games. I will use photography -- and documentary photography in particular -- to guide my inquiry. In each host city, I will exhibit a photographic timeline of transformation using photographical archives of the developed urban areas in addition to my own photographs as a way to facilitate conversation between those groups displaced in the process of development. Additionally, I will examine the pinnacle issues, or watershed moments, that surfaced around the Games. These moments represent ongoing societal struggles. By immersing myself in both the community and the legacy of the Olympics, I will be able to determine if playing host to the games resolved the conflicts while promoting a more peaceful society, as the Olympic Charter predicts.

Linh Vuong

Into the Wind: Exploring the Evolving Art of Kite-making & Natural Design
Places to Visit: Vietnam, Malaysia, India, and New Zealand
Major: Environmental Studies
Hometown: Houston, Texas

While kites have an ancient history in Asia and the Asian Pacific, this history hasn't always been smooth. Modernity, missionaries, moods have led to kites' changing fortunes. Today there are few places remaining where the old art is alive and many attempts to revive it. By exploring the collective and personal history of kite-making and design in peninsular Malaysia, Vietnam, India, and (mainly Maori) New Zealand (Aotearoa in the Maori language) and participating in design and construction with local artisans, I hope to understand the larger significance of kite-making as it relates to the preservation of cultural and environmental identities. I intend to investigate, in each of these places, the traditional ways in which kites were used as well as the ways in which kite design, manufacture, and usage has changed in these places over the centuries.

2005-06: Scott Warren

Scott Warren

Time is a River: Mapping Change, Culture and History in the Grandest of Canyons

Read Scott's Blog "One More Day Up in the Canyons."

The depths of canyons are places of unfathomable history and complexity. Between billion year old rocks and thousand year old legends, the mere passage of time and a river flowing have shaped human histories and lives as much as they have sandstone and granite. Only by walking through these canyons, and in a sense walking through time, can one begin to explore and understand the relationships and histories of a people and a canyon. By exploring the ‘grand canyons' of the world in Namibia, Ethiopia, China, Peru, and Mexico and by inviting the stories, legends and current issues of the people in and around these canyons the complex histories can be unraveled. In doing so the rapidly changing relationship of man to these immense chasms of nature can be better grasped and hopefully challenges more easily overcome.

Canyons have been in my blood since the hiking and rafting trips my family took when I was old enough to walk. I am in awe of their physical and temporal scales and their mere sight fills me with reverence. More recently, I have worked in Zion National Park, where I began to understand the management of canyons and the complexity of man's relationship to them. It is because of my lifelong attraction to canyons and exposure to their complexities that I want to embark on this exploration. At the end of a year of immersing myself in the heart of the world's greatest canyons I hope to understand how time, humans, and nature interact and understand how the pressures that canyons and their residents face can be best handled. I also hope to feel to rhythms of the canyon and the passage of time and be filled with the same wonderment, respect, and spirituality that I first felt for canyons from a little blue raft wedged between two rocks at the bottom of Santa Elena canyon's 1000 foot cliff walls.